The Chorus As A Homonym Essay

1368 words - 5 pages

In Jean Anouilh’s Antigone and in Euripides’s Medea the Chorus is both a tool for characterization and representation of theme; however, the ways they function in their respective plays are noticeably different. The differences in the way the Choruses function in each respective play make the name of the character “the Chorus” a homonym, same name different meaning.
The Chorus in Antigone functions to incorporate the technique of metatheatre. The purpose of metatheatre is to provide a separation between the audience and the actors in the play through “constant direct and indirect reminders that what [the audience] is watching is a play” (Freeman xxxvii). The first instance of a reminder is when the Prologue steps forward from the Chorus and describes each character and provides a quick plot summary of what is to come. The distancing of the audience from the play is effective because it aids them to think more deeply about the choices that Antigone makes and the value of her choice to die rather than focus solely on the tragedy of her death. A critic of tragedies could argue that this distancing through metatheatre “destroys the tragic impact” of the play, but if one looks more closely the tragic impact is found not in the physical death of Antigone but in her “realization that she is in the wrong” and must still die anyways because she is bound to her part (Freeman xxxix). Another instance of a reminder that the audience is watching a play is when the Chorus interrupts the plot to give a brief lesson on the differences between a drama and a tragedy to emphasize that Antigone is a tragedy. The purpose of this lesson is not only to emphasize that Antigone is a tragedy but also to remind the audience that “there [is] no lousy hope left” for Antigone’s survival because death is the linking factor of tragedies (Anouilh 26).
The characterization by the Chorus is done through the metatheatrical technique at the beginning with the Prologue. In this case, metatheatre is working to connect the audience to each character, rather than distance them, by giving a brief description of each part. The play opens with all the characters at a sort of gathering and the Prologue emerges from the Chorus to speak. The characterization is done mainly through the Prologue’s description of each character’s body language rather than specific adjectives which allows the audience to draw their own inferences on the nature of each character. For example, the Prologue describes Antigone as “sitting there silent…staring in front of her…thinking…dreaming in a corner with her arms clasped around her knees” instead of describing her as introverted yet burdened with the weight of the knowledge that her death is imminent (Anouilh 3). Along with describing body language, the Prologue also lets the audience into the minds of each character and articulates what they are thinking which gives the audience another way to infer the nature of each character. An example of this...

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